The CBS-Infinity-Viacom alphabet soup media conglomerate has started to broadcast David Letterman's nightly television show on their radio affiliates. The concept of simulcasting television programs on the radio is not new, but normally it is separately manned, planned, and focused toward an imaginative radio audience, i.e. a football game may be on television and radio, but the radio has its own play by play and color announcers. Why? Because radio is different!

The media giants have fallen so far that they are running their properties like its Radio Cameroon? One program fits all?

CBS has broadcast 60 Minutes on Sunday nights, but that was probably because the core news audience of shut-in seniors are already bunkered in bed at 6 p.m. and are generally frightened by cathode ray radiation. The core 60 Minutes reporters are beyond gray panther status. It is too tough to watch a current 60 Minutes ambush street interview when the subject can get distance by casually walking down a street while the reporter wheezes with his walker in pursuit.

But is not the Letterman's bread and butter the visual sight-gag? How can one visualize Radio Dave? Not very well.

But it does not matter. Why? Because to the company, this radio program is FREE! You can fire radio talent and plug in the audio of an existing program. It's a win-win for the corporate chainsaw accountants. It does not matter if it makes any sense to a listener, because it is FILLER; the meal or sawdust put into the meat of the entertainment programming radio day.

It also could be the equivalent of bailing a sinking ad ship. By expanding Letterman to radio, the sales department can tell advertisers that they are reaching a larger audience than the Nielsen ratings show for TV. It is like the local papers sending mass mailings of their shopper edition to everyone to boost ad circulation.

Why should the average viewer care? Because there is an alarming trend for the media giants to recycle their trash, from the network telecasts, to immediate repeats on their cable channels, to outright creativity drought. How many times can one see Seinfeld on cable and local stations in one day? Apparently to programmers, it is infinite.

The expanding alternative channels was supposed to give Americans 200 channels of diverse programming. However, with mass mergers, joint ventures, and cross marketing, the 200 channels of diverse programming are mere watered down reruns of old, tired network fodder. But the executives do not yet realize that the dilution of medium has a cause and effect relationship to why the overall network television ratings are fading.

Letterman thinks the whole Radio Dave thing is a joke. He is right. It is joke on the radio audience in lieu of new programming.


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